Fire claims two historic buildings in downtown Williams Lake

Angie Mindus photoAngie Mindus photo
Fire claims two historic buildings in downtown Williams Lake
Angie Mindus photoAngie Mindus photo
Angie Mindus photoAngie Mindus photo
Angie Mindus photoAngie Mindus photo
Angie Mindus photoAngie Mindus photo
Patrick Davies photoPatrick Davies photo
Angie Mindus photoAngie Mindus photo
Patrick Davies photoPatrick Davies photo
New World Coffee and Tea House owner Sue Lachance. Angie Mindus photoNew World Coffee and Tea House owner Sue Lachance. Angie Mindus photo
Angie Mindus photoAngie Mindus photo
Angie Mindus photoAngie Mindus photo
Patrick Davies photoPatrick Davies photo

Two historic buildings in downtown Williams Lake have been destroyed by a fire that broke out in the early morning Friday, Sept. 20.

Fire crews were called at about 5:30 a.m. to the location of Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge on Oliver Street, which has been the location of multiple previous arson attempts in the last year.

By 6 a.m. the building was fully engulfed and the roof of the building had collapsed onto the sidewalk. A team of about 25 firefighters from the Williams Lake Fire Department battled the fire hard, hitting it with water from several fronts, in an attempt to stop the blaze from spreading.

Deputy Fire Chief Rob Warnock of the WLFD told the Tribune at about 6:15 a.m. no one was injured in the blaze.

Thick black smoke continued to billow from the building as residents made their way to work Friday morning. Firefighters extended their taped off section to close off Mackenzie Avenue at the foot of Oliver Street just after 9 a.m. when it became evident that the fire was about to spread to New World Coffee and Tea House next door.

By 9:30 a.m. flames could be seen shooting out of the roof structure at the back of the New World as a excavator arrived on scene and tore down the beloved coffee shop to save the others, which included the barber shop, a tattoo parlor, cell phone repair shop and Ming’s Palace Chinese restaurant.

By 10:30 a.m. members of the Wildwood and 150 Mile Volunteer Fire Departments arrived to assist with the structure fires and an air quality advisory was issued due to the thick smoke over the city.

The Tribune caught up with New World Coffee and Tea House owner Sue Lachance on scene, who was coming to grips with the loss.

“We’re sad, but everyone’s safe and that’s the main thing,” said Lachance, who owns the popular shop with her partner Brice O’Neill. “The fire department has been amazing. They did everything they could. They pressurized our building. It looked really positive for a bit … but unfortunately the fire breached the walls.”

The building was built in the late 1930s by the Borkowski brothers, Lachance said, noting the original building was also built on to a couple more times after that.

“It’s had a long, long history of different businesses being in there,” she said.

Lachance and O’Neill completely renovated the building before opening New World Coffee and Tea House and while doing so found many historical treasures that they displayed in the café which were lost in the fire.

“Whenever an historic building like this goes it is always sad because a piece of history goes with it.”

As Lachance spoke, many friends and customers offered their condolences, adding how much they loved the coffee shop.

Lachance told the Tribune they plan to rebuild.

Williams Lake Fire Chief Erick Peterson told the Tribune when they arrived on scene at 5:30 a.m. they observed smoke and flames coming from the roof at the front of Diamonds and Dust.

Peterson said he cannot speculate at this point the cause of the fire, however, residents can expect that section of Oliver Street to be closed for a few days while fire investigators secure and examine evidence to determine the cause.

Williams Lake RCMP Insp. Jeff Pelley, officer in charge of the detachment, said the RCMP are working with the WLFD to investigate the fire.

Peterson confirmed Diamonds and Dust and New World are complete losses, while the barber shop suffered severe water damage, along with the rest of the buildings downhill of the fire.

“All these buildings are connected in one way or another,” he said of the historic block.

Even Caribou Ski Source for Sports, he said, received water damage due to the amount of water they had to use to protect the building from the fire.

Peterson wanted to thank all emergency responders who assisted at the scene, including the Wildwood and 150 Mile fire departments, EHS and RCMP.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. (Black Press Media file photos)
MLA’s CORNER: Premier Horgan needs to work harder

There are lots of people out there who are in desperate need of assistance

The first Chimney Creek Roadhouse, constructed in 1864. (Photo courtesy of the B.C. Provincial Archives)
HAPHAZARD HISTORY: The Isnardy family of Williams Lake

Amadee Isnardy was born in 1840 near Nice, France

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Quesnel Observer.
FOREST INK: Ecological economics not a popular topic for most people

The following is a review of the no (or slow) growth concept

Do you have a letter? Email us at editor@wltribune.com
LETTER: BC Liberals left ICBC a mess: Farnworth

Our BC NDP government has worked tirelessly to fix the mess that was left behind

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read